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Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

360                    WHALING IN THE BAY OF BISCAY                  CHAP.
is apt to get lost, and in the skeleton of so huge and unmanage-
able a beast there is nothing more unwise than to insist upon, as
specific characters, what may be due merely to defective prepara-
tion. This Whale has often, and the Greenland Whale also, a
rough horny protuberance upon the snout known as the tc bonnet."
The causation of this is not clear. It has been spoken of as " a
rudimentary frontal horn." But this suggestion of an Ungulate
affinity can hardly be accepted. It seems to be more like a kind
of corn.
This Whale was once more abundant on the coasts of Europe
than it is to-day; it was much hunted by the Basques in past
time. The Whale which frequented the Bay of Biscay was usually
called the Biscayan Whale or JR. ~biscayensis; but there is prob-
ably no specific difference. Among the small towns which fringe
the Bay, it is very common to find the Whale incorporated into
the armorial bearings. " Over the portal of the first old house
in the steep street of Guetaria," writes Sir Clements Markham,1
" there is a shield of arms consisting of Whales amid waves of
the sea. At Motrico the town arms consist of a Whale in the
sea harpooned, and with a boat with men holding the line."
Plenty of other such examples testify to the prevalence of the
whaling industry on these adjoining coasts of Spain and France.
It appears that though the fishery began much earlier—even in
the ninth century—the first actual document relating to it dates
from the year 1150. It is in the shape of privileges granted
by Sancho the Wise to the city of San Sebastian. The trade
was still very flourishing in the sixteenth century. Hondeletius
the naturalist described Bayonne as the centre of the trade, and
tells us that the flesh, especially of the tongue, was exposed for
sale as food in the markets.
M. Fischer,2 who, as well as Sir Clements Markham, has
given an important account of the whaling industry on the
Basque shores, quotes an account of the methods pursued in the
sixteenth century. It was at Biarritz—or as Ambroise Pare,
from whom Fischer quotes, spelt it, Biaris—that the main
fisheries were undertaken. The inhabitants set upon a hill a
tower feom which they could see " the Balaines which pass, and
perceiving them coming partly by the loud noise they make, and
* JFVw. &ooL JSoe. 1881, p. 969,
c. Bordeaux, 1S81.